SKETCH GALLERY: Dimitri Capuani
I would not be able to say if the ability to draw is essential for a production designer. Probably not, although to be able to promptly decode visions, ideas or concepts onto paper is a strong advantage. Sometimes drawing allows you to express an impression or a concept in its deepest significance.
The technique I use for the sketches has remained more or less the same, at least the starting point, which is a pencil scribble on paper. Once I drew with watercolors or pantone, but for some years now I have been scanning the preliminary drawing and continuing to
work with Painter and Photoshop, supports that have speeded up the work exponentially.
Despite the extensive use of these new supports, I cannot abandon pencil on paper, perhaps because of the sense of freedom it transmits to you, and perhaps because it represented a large part of my professional career. I have been drawing for so many years in different environments, first in the architecture studios, then with Franco Zeffirelli and later, for a long period, alongside the Oscar winner Dante Ferretti.
When designing a film, my first sketches are always in pencil on paper and I am very motivated by the idea of finding a 'form' that can become something iconic. Sometimes it can be an architectural element, a piece of furniture or a prop. This 'form' must arise from the central theme of the film, supporting or amplifying, if necessary, the nature and disposition of a character or of a specific dramatic situation. We must ensure that the characters in the film are always in total symbiosis with the elements of the scenography.
In Sebastiano Mauri's film Favola, this so-called ‘form’ is represented by the large oblique arch in the entrance to the apartment, also referenced in the drawing of the fireplace in the living room.
In Dogman, by Matteo Garrone, the construction of a big circular fountain in the centre of the village reminds an agora where the protagonist brings in triumph the lifeless body of his extortionist.
The moorish ornaments on the walls highlights the ambiguous personality of the queen, played by Salma Hayek, in "Tale of Tales".
The designer’s hope is that the director will take advantage of these suggestions. Some directors have the ability to tell a story through architecture alone, though without over-emphasising it. Instead, they make such a feature of the architecture that it becomes intertwined with the plot. In these circumstances, and if the identified form is correct, the story is enriched with a new dimension where both physical and mental spaces coincide.